My dad has been installing alarm systems since he was a teenager in the late 70s. By the late 80s, us kids tagged along on jobs with him or hung around the garage where he installed car alarms, stereos, and car phones. I learned how to shimmy under a car and hang a horn for a car siren when I was 8, because we didn't have a lift. By the time I was 10, I could repair foil or replace a pin plug. When I was 16, I dropped out of high school, because I never did very well in a classroom enviroment, and my dad informed me that moping around the house and waking up at 11:00 was not an option.
So I got a job with a guy who did a mix of commercial and residential alarms, plus computer networking and telephone systems, which my dad did not offer. This guy I worked for loooooooved to talk, and I kept asking him questions, and he kept lecturing about electrical theory, security concepts, history of security systems, and best installation practices. He wasn't the most easygoing boss I ever had, but he was knowledgable and curious and had a real creative approach to problemsolving that I've tried to internalize.
He was an actual trunkslammer, with, if I recall correctly, a 1989 Mercury Marquis. It was my job to sit in the car with the engine running and drive around the block a couple of times when I saw meter maids. On occasion, we'd take the subway into the city when it was just a service call and the call out charge would not cover gas and tolls. Have you ever taken a Little Giant ladder, a tool bag, and pockets stuffed full of wire scraps onto a New York City subway car? I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
We also worked in lots of bad neighborhoods, gentrification not having had time to spread very far from the G train. So my job was to stand next to a pile of tools and cable spools with a pipe with one end wrapped in electric tape, trying to look scary. It must have worked because we only got ripped off once.
After he got sick and tired of my teenage shenanigans and fired me for chronic lateness, I made good money hiring myself out for the day to trunkslammers who needed an extra hand to do a big job. Thanks to tips and tricks I learned from this guy, I was really, really good at running cables where cables shouldn't be able to go and fixing unfixable problems.
That's when my dad called. A customer of his wanted to install a digital video recorder. Could I help him install it and put it on the Internet? I'd recently flunked out of an MCSE prep course, so I was perfectly qualified to figure out this mysterious digital doohicky. So I went down and figured out how to set it up with the help of Google. And, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why in the world people wants a device that looked worse than VHS for triple the price or more? Okay, yes, a hard drive lasted a lot longer than tapes, and it had the multiplexer built right in, but still. The price was insane. I couldn't see it.
The customer could, though. It was the ability to view his factory live, offsite. This customer was so impressed that he took his laptop around to other factories in the same industrial park in order to show his factory-owner buddies how awesome his DVR was, and to give them our phone number, essentially acting as a volunteer salesman for my dad.
Business exploded, and I worked for my dad installing DVRs. But then the housing boom happened, and he got hooked up with a developer, a guy who would chop down a bunch of trees and build forty or fifty identical townhouses at a shot. My baby brother, who had joined the business, set up a kind of assembly line system, installing buglar alarm, fire alarm, intercom, telco, and TV cabling in these houses, able to knock two complete installations in a day. I, however, was incredibly bored with the same thing every day.
Meanwhile, a buddy of mine was working at a photography store in New York City that had begun selling CCTV as a sideline. I visited him at work, and took the opportunity to tell him everything they were doing wrong- they were selling box cameras but no lenses, cables but no connectors, for example. Mid rant, some dude wandered over. He listened to my rant, said "hmmm... interesting...", and wandered away.
Two days later he called and offered me a job.
So, I'm working there for a while, selling cameras and DVRs, and then this product catagory gets added to our order entry system called IP Cameras. I'd heard of them, of course, but didn't know anything about them. So I start researching them, and I come across a website called IP Video Market.
Which brings us to today. The photography store sold more and more surveillance cameras, eventually making me sales manager of a new surveillance video sales department, and I made more and more stupid comments on IPVM.
And my oldest takes great pleasure in point out security cameras he sees when we're out and about. We're learning about form factors and mounting considerations...